UHV awards research grants to three faculty

The design and development of intelligent health care for COVID-19 management, interactions between Union soldiers and Southern women during the Civil War, and the development of town law in medieval communities are just three of the areas that University of Houston-Victoria faculty members will spend time researching this summer and next school year.

The research is made possible after the university awarded two $10,000 Junior Faculty Summer Research Grants and $6,000 through a 2021-2022 Internal Research Grant. Laura Mammina and Esther Cuenca, both assistant professors of history, received the Junior Faculty Summer Research Grants, and Hardik Gohel, an assistant professor of computer science, was awarded the Internal Research Grant for the upcoming school year.

Chance Glenn

“Our faculty are constantly researching new and emerging topics in their fields,” said Chance Glenn Sr., UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs. “These seed grants will help these faculty members get their research started and, in turn, enrich our UHV and Crossroads community with the knowledge they have obtained.”

UHV has awarded faculty members the Junior Faculty Summer Research Grants since 2009 and the Internal Research Grant since 2011. The purpose of both grants is to support faculty research development. The Junior Faculty Summer Research Grant is available to faculty members during their first three years of UHV employment. Both tenured and untenured faculty are eligible for the Internal Research Grant.

Gohel teaches computer science courses and specializes in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. He also previously received the Junior Faculty Summer Research Grant in 2020 to research health care monitoring using mobile devices and artificial intelligence. For his 2021 internal research grant project, Gohel will research artificial intelligence and biosensing health care for COVID-19 management.

Hardik Gohel

His project is called “Multimodal biosensing for artificial intelligence based COVID-19 management” and is part of a larger collaboration with faculty members from Florida International University and Florida Polytechnic University. The entire project includes the research and development of point of care supported by artificial intelligence to generate bioinformation needed for early-stage COVID-19 diagnosis, correlation of viral load with pathogens, understanding of pandemic progression, therapy optimization, point of care diagnostics, and disease management in a personalized manner.

With this grant, Gohel will be focusing on the development of the artificial intelligence modeling component of the project. He plans to bring on up to two graduate assistants to help him in the fall.

“I am excited because this grant will help me continue my research to design and develop intelligent health care,” he said. “The benefit of this research is on a larger scale because it will help foster research and development of advanced digital telehealth solutions and digital solutions for COVID-19 management.”

Laura Mammina

Mammina teaches U.S. history courses as well as courses about the colonial and Civil War-era United States. She has worked on her research project for several years. This research is for a book project and gives a broad look into the interactions of Union soldiers and Southern women of all backgrounds. These interactions include issues that occurred between soldiers and Southern women that regarded citizenship, rights and freedom.

She plans to use the grant to purchase databases and books, including books by African American historians about the Civil War. She also is working on a digital history project to create a website that will make historical documents accessible to students online. In addition, she will use the grant to continue research for a separate article about civilian women who were court martialed by the military during the Civil War.

“I am really honored to receive this grant,” Mammina said. “It is really great that UHV is supportive of the work of its junior faculty, and it is amazing to have an opportunity like this here.”

Cuenca specializes in the history of medieval and early modern Britain. Courses she has taught include “Medieval Plagues,” “Saints, Wives and Witches” and “Medieval Digital History.”

Esther Cuenca

She plans to use the grant to fund the editing and completion of her manuscript “The Making of Urban Law in Medieval Britain.” The book focuses on how towns developed their own laws during the period from the late 12th century to the early 17th century. The topic was the focus of her doctoral dissertation. During a graduate seminar about medieval towns, Cuenca learned that there had been a lot of research into the development of law for major entities such as the Catholic church, but very little recent work had focused on community laws.

Because not much research has been published about the subject, Cuenca has had to define the field. She has built databases and used previous grants to travel to Britain to research the history of town laws in local archives and the British Library in London. She even received a yearlong Medieval Academy grant. However, travel restrictions during the pandemic have made it difficult to access some sources. Now, as she works to complete her manuscript, Cuenca plans to travel to the Library of Congress or other U.S.-based resources.

“I am grateful for this grant and the vote of confidence in my scholarship from the university,” she said. “This is a complicated book to write, and I appreciate the support moving forward.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco